Within the framework of the work programme of the Group of Transport Ministers of the Western Mediterranean (GTMO 5+5) for the Maltese presidency, the CETMO, as technical secretariat of the group, has carried out the diagnosis “Maritime connectivity in the Western Mediterranean”.
The diagnosis, completed in December 2022, presents the situation of maritime connectivity in the region and the main global trends in the transport sector that may condition its development. The purpose of the diagnosis is to identify a series of lines of action that will enable the improvement and adaptability of maritime connectivity to the changing conditions of maritime transport in the Western Mediterranean. The information and reflections in the document focus on containerised general cargo and ro-ro cargo flows.
Firstly, the diagnosis offers an overview of the processes that have marked the organisation of world maritime transport in recent years and their specific representation in the Mediterranean region, and then focuses on the concept of maritime connectivity and its dimensions: the network of maritime connections between ports, the goods movement through ports and the connection with the hinterland.
The diagnosis of the situation begins with an analysis of existing indicators and information for measuring maritime connectivity in the Western Mediterranean, complemented by a qualitative analysis of connectivity, based on the pluralistic opinions of experts and professionals linked to the region’s maritime and port industry. This qualitative analysis also identifies the main global trends to be taken into account for the future of maritime connectivity in the Western Mediterranean.
The main conclusion from the analysis of the existing indicators is the absence of an indicator or system of indicators that would allow a regular assessment of the three dimensions of maritime connectivity in the Western Mediterranean, as the existing indicators are limited to assessing the maritime connection of scheduled services and the port throughput of container transport.
With regard to the dimensions of maritime connectivity, and more specifically, the network of maritime connections between ports, it is noted that a greater involvement of other actors linked to maritime transport, in addition to shipping companies; the improvement of infrastructures in the Maghreb and the existence of policies in favour of maritime transport aimed at both shores of the Mediterranean Sea could favour the emergence of new maritime services.
Regarding the goods movement through ports, the existence of differentiated customs treatment between some countries in the region is the main conditioning factor, and it is therefore considered necessary to develop alternatives or procedures that help to reduce the differences in time, cost and facilitation of goods movement of these countries.
In reference to connections with the hinterland, multimodality is highlighted as the region’s main challenge, and the expansion of the port hinterland and the change in the unimodal vision of certain actors, as incentive factors for the improvement of these connections.
In addition, the diagnosis identifies sustainability and energy transition, digital transformation, relocation and regionalisation processes and resilience to disruptions as the trends with the greatest influence on the development of maritime connectivity in the Western Mediterranean. On this topic, the main concerns focus on the high level of investment required to meet environmental requirements, the lack of a clearly defined and agreed technological commitment to facilitate coordination between port authorities and shipping companies across the region in terms of sustainability, interoperability between the different technologies used and technological cooperation to leave no one behind, and the promotion of joint work to ensure regional adaptation to the impacts of climate change.
From CETMO’s point of view, as technical secretariat of the GTMO 5+5, the moment of transformations and challenges facing maritime connectivity is an opportunity for dialogue and cooperation between the different national, regional or international, public or private actors on both sides of the Mediterranean, in order to advance jointly and in a coordinated manner towards a more integrated, efficient and sustainable region.